One constant in video games is the inevitable crush of annual sports game releases with household titles such as Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K. That said there are some lesser known sports video games that have stood the test of time without the need for an annual update. This list of Forgotten 3s features the most underrated sports games ever.
Pro Wrestling (1986)
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Professional wrestling may not fit everyone’s definition of a sports game. Putting that aside, Pro Wrestling on the NES is one of the most enduring “sports” titles that has crossed my path over the past thirty years. Each of the wrestlers has a unique personality better than anything the WWE could come up with, From the pretty boy King Slender to the masked acrobat Starman the wrestlers almost have a personality endued in them without the need for narrative. Each wrestler also has a completely memorable set of special moves. Who could forget The Amazon’s brutal move of biting his opponent’s head?
All that said, it is how revolutionary the moves and abilities in the game were that makes it still hold up. These were without a doubt well before their time. While it can still be very contrived in the current 2K wrestling series to execute complex moves to throw an opponent out of the ring, or the kick out of a pin, it always felt like second nature in Pro Wrestling. There is something beautiful in the simplicity of having a robust move set with only the use of two buttons on the original NES controller. It felt like there was sufficient freedom to experience an old-school wrestling match without turning it into a convoluted mess of controls which many subsequent wrestling games were guilty of. As one of the most underrated sports games ever, I’ll take a matchup between Giant Panther and Kin Corn Karn in Pro Wrestling over Stone Cold and The Rock in any WWE game out today.
Outlaw Golf 2 (2002)
For my money Outlaw Golf 2 is not only the greatest golf game ever, it is also one of the most underrated sports games too. The putting preview mechanic from the original Outlaw game was so great it was lifted by the Tiger Woods titles by my recollection. The ability to perfectly place an iron shot from the fairway or a chip from the sand trap is without parallel in golf games. It was the first golf game that actually made you feel like a superstar without the need for gimmicky unrealistic bonus powers and such. The realistic skills paired with slightly off the wall courses translated into a perfect merger between the sim and arcade aspects of a golf game.
the hile gameplay is incredible in Outlaw Golf 2 it is the insane amount of content that lands it on the list of the most underrated sports games. There are ten golfers which each have the ability to gain skills from a huge bevy of events that hone driving, chipping, putting and ….. golf cart driving. There must be at least fifteen hours of content to unlock everything for each golfer. That makes for a cool 150 hours on content to be had. While the game’s misogyny is a bit of a downer it is certainly an embarrassment of riches with 33 original soundtrack songs, the ability to fight your caddie and a ton of insane golf modes. There are timed events where number of shots do not matter, the golfer who takes the least time to finish the 18 holes is the winner. There are skills events where you have to hit livestock with your ball, If you haven’t yet, pick up Outlaw Golf 2 to see why it is one of the most underrated sports games I suggest you do soon. Did I also mention that comedian Dave Attell provides the commentary?
RBI Baseball 3 (1991)
I love baseball video games. The problem is that they always take too long to play a full 9 innings, even with The Show’s new speed up options. It makes me pine for the days when I could get my 27 outs in the same amount of time it takes for a good shave. That was the beauty of RBI Baseball 3. A pitcher could get a full 3 strikes in in about as many seconds. With no superfluous presentation additions, the game would fly by. The fielding was also smooth as silk as it was incredibly easy to dive for grounder over second or to jump for a long shot at the wall. RBI Baseball 3 also perfected baserunning, and it has yet to be topped. There was complete control of your runners on all corners of the diamond allowing for intricate double steal scenarios that have yet to be duplicated.
RBI Baseball 3 also deserves to be on the list of the most underrated sports games as it was one of the first to introduce pitcher fatigue over multiple games. There was nothing more fun than holding a best of seven game series against a friend and finding that the starting pitchers, or long-haul relievers, from the first game, were not available for the second. Or third for that matter. This was groundbreaking 25 years ago! In short, RBI Baseball 3 featured everything a great baseball game should have without the fluff or extras that just draw out the time it takes to play a game. The fact that the game immortalizes switch-hitting icon Ruben Sierra as one of baseball’s greats is simply one of its many other pluses in my books.